By Abigail Meredith
Cavalier Daily, U. Virginia
(UWIRE)—Students who do not exercise critical thinking skills and are not civically engaged in college have greater difficulty finding jobs, according to a study released at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
The study, "Documenting Uncertain Times: Post-Graduate Transition of the Academically Adrift Cohort," used the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized testing evaluation of higher education, to compare the academic strength of 925 students to post-graduate success.
Students' critical thinking and analytic reasoning skills do not improve during their four years in college. The study comes about a year after U. Virginia Asst. Sociology Prof. Josipa Roksa and New York U. Sociology Prof. Richard Arum stirred debate in higher education circles with their book, "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses," which broadly found that students' critical thinking and analytic reasoning skills do not improve during their four years in college. The report released Tuesday studied the same students surveyed in "Academically Adrift."
As a follow-up to that book, Arum and Roksa "were interested to learn if [the outcomes of the] Collegiate Learning Assessment ... would be related to employment," Roksa said.
In the latest study, graduates who scored in the bottom quintile of the test were three times more likely to be unemployed than those who scored in the top quintile, twice as likely to still be living at home, and significantly more likely to have amassed credit card debt.
Study results also indicated that business majors in particular failed to display notable strides in critical thinking.
"The associations found between educational experiences and life-course outcomes (such as employment, financial status, and civic engagement) further reinforce an appreciation of the importance of college academic achievement and performance," the report says.